Reports in Mackinac History and Archaeology, Number 11
from the book: “The years from 1796, when United States troops first landed on Mackinac Island, to the reorganization of the military in 1802, mark the first chapter in American military history at Fort Mackinac. This was a period of territorial expansion as the United States occupied a string of valuable Great Lakes forts from Lake Ontario to the Straits of Mackinac. At Fort Mackinac, it was a time when the small garrison sought to establish military authority over a vast region filled with potentially hostile French and British Canadians and Indians. In the face of overwhelming difficulties, Fort Mackinac emerged as a significant border post on the edge of the new nation. The practice of establishing and garrisoning frontier constabulary post with federal troops was a significant component of American military policy throughout the nineteenth century as the nation expanded its boarder to the west coast.
The period from 1796-1802 is also the beginning of the US civilian settlement at the Straits of Mackinac. Under the protection of the fort, Northwest Territory officials brought US laws to the upper Great Lakes and empowered local justices and militia leaders to enforce them. Peaceful coexistence with Indian and Canadian neighbors during these years paved the way for American settlement and commercial development, as well as the beginning of shared ownership of the upper Great Lakes waterways.”